Inside a glamorous long lunch celebrating Muslim sisterhood

This article was originally featured on Ensemble.

Inside a glamorous long lunch celebrating Muslim sisterhood

This article was originally featured on Ensemble. Click here to read it.

The last weekend of May marked the second year of Oasis - the Habibti long lunch at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour dedicated to celebrating the wāhine Muslim community of Aotearoa in style.

“Making the event a regular fixture in the Muslim calendar was really born out of the overwhelmingly positive feedback we had from the attendees of last year’s event,” says Latifa Daud, an accessibility consultant for the Viaduct precinct and one of the event’s organisers. “Last year, almost every attendee spoke about how desperately such a space was needed. It’s our honour to be able to deliver this for the community again.”

Naturally, the Oasis team organisers including Sauce founder Zeenat Wilkinson, and Looped nightclub founder Yordanos Berhane embraced dressing up for the event. “Getting ready at the Viaduct Harbour offices beforehand was a whole vibe!” says Sam Saxton-Beer, Viaduct Harbour’s brand and marketing manager.

“We had music going and turned the board room into a mega styling and glam prep party, with makeup artists Renee Alumasa and Liz Hyun working their magic on more than a dozen faces before the event.”

“There was an incredibly diverse group of guests, who all looked amazing,” says Haya Khan of Masala Bazaar, a guest speaker at the event. “Some chose to style themselves in traditional garments, while others went for more contemporary interpretations from well known Muslim brands like Rahayah Collection, Ahlaam Collection and Modest Essentials from Forever Hijab.

“As young Muslim women have grown up seeing a blend of Kiwi and modest style through their own diverse cultural backgrounds, they have definitely become trendsetters. Their unique style comes from the exploration of their own cultural identities and interpretation of modesty,” says Khan.

“Clothing like abayas (long modest gowns) and hijabs (head coverings), that were once seen as foreign have now become a statement piece and a symbol of confidence and elegance, these young women have been incredible at putting their own new twist on modest wear and making a statement with fashion.”

During the afternoon, the group enjoyed halal Middle-Eastern-inspired cuisine at Esther restaurant, and sipped tea from huge traditional pots by House of Chai. They listened to inspiring personal stories from speakers like Khan, who last year attended the inaugural lunch as a guest, weeks before she left her day job to start up her candle business, Masala Scents.

“Fast forward 12 months and Haya’s business has grown into a thriving retail store and community hub. So, we invited her back to be part of Oasis Edition Two as both a guest speaker and Oasis team member,” says Daud.

“This year Haya curated the amazing goodie bags and delivered an inspirational speech about her experience as a young Muslim Wahine moving to Aotearoa from Pakistan.”

Beyond the glamour and gifts, fostering connections and hearing stories like this are part of what Oasis is all about, explains Daud. “There is a growing number of young women of colour who dare to take risks and pursue their artistic goals. We provide a space for women to share their stories and support one another in their entrepreneurship.”